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Dylan tribute fest organized all over Northeast

Old Friends – Lou Majaw with Nandan Bagchi on the drums

The music landscape of Shillong and other parts of the region came alive once again recently with the birthday celebrations of Bob Dylan. The birthday celebrations have been organized by Lou Majaw with unfailing regularity in Shillong from May 24, 1972.

This was the 41st year of the birthday celebrations and it extended for three whole days. Starting on May 24 at Cloud 9 lounge in Shillong, this year’s edition was dedicated to creative expressions – a blend of music, poetry and panting. Accordingly, besides the jamming and music sessions, an evening of poetry was also coordinated by noted poet and folklorist Desmond Kharmawphlang at Cafe Shillong. “Anyone can come and share their joys, pains and sorrows through the medium of songs and poetry,” said Kharmawphlang, who had a number of well-known poets like Kympham Singh Nonkynrih giving him company.

Alobo Naga sings in Hiyo cafe

The festival concluded at Umiam Lake where a host of musicians, including Whirling Kalapas led by Uday Benegal and American singers Parker Ainsworth, Jeff Harding and Skye, also performed. “Every day we are being bombarded by one absurdity after the other. There are too many dos and don’ts. But what I believe is that the music must go on. Forget politics and save music,” Lou said in the sidelines of the festival.

from left – Anup Dutta, Monijit Baruah and Nandan Phukan

What started off as a small fest, however, has now grown into a mega festival, with its popularity spilling over into other major towns and cities of the region. After Shillong, the first city to fall prey to the Dylan craze was Guwahati. Musicians and music lovers of the gateway city who have attending the Shillong tribute with unfailing regularity had started their own tribute concert last year. Christening themselves as the Guwahati chapter of the Bob Dylan society, these musicians join Lou celebrate Dylan’s birthday over a distance of 100-odd kilometres.

“Lou is undoubtedly India’s own Dylan. However, it has become increasingly difficult for us to go up to Shillong every year to take part in the celebrations. That does not, however, mean we will stop celebrating the day. So some of us friends decided to open the Guwahati chapter of the Dylan society so as to make it easier for us,” a member of the Guwahati chapter of the Great Dylan society said,

This year around, the Dylan tribute fest in Guwahati was organized by the Guwahati chapter of the Dylan society in association with popular art and music promotion organization – the Eastern Beats Music Society – at Cafe Hendrix in the city. Like the celebrations in Shillong, the event here too was also dedicated to creativity. As a member of the Dylan society said, “Dylan is a person who advocated creativity and change throughout his life. So this year, the theme of our celebrations was creativity in any form – it could be writings, poetry, music, songs, whatever. Anyone who has a piece of something creative with him or her were encouraged to come and take part in the event.”

So as the celebrations in Guwahati began with a poignant rendering of Blowing in the Wind by Dr Nandan Phukan, one could truly feel the Lou-led tribute fever wafting down the hills from Shillong. The Great Dylan Society (Guwahati chapter) was joined by a host of veteran musicians, including Monojit Barooah, Amlandeep Das, Bala Bhadra Hagjer, Sandeep Gogoi, Sumon Duarah, Anup Dutta, Hridoy Goswami, to name a few.

Pratik Barooah of Bolt from the Blue

Guwahati-based bands Bluetooth and Bolt from the Blue also performed their own sets of originals and popular Dylan numbers, which included Just Like a Woman, Like a Rolling Stone, Baby Blue, All Along The Watchtower, amongst others. While the duet between Amlandeep Das on guitars and Bala Bhadra Hagjer on the harmonica was received with much applause, the performance of Sarah by Monojit Barooah, who was accompanied by his son Pratik Barooah and Anup Dutta, really took one back on a nostalgic ride.

Dimapur – the commercial capital of Nagaland, located some 380-odd kilometres away from Guwahati – also could not miss the Dylan fever as a few musicians celebrated the day with a jamming session at Hiyo café. Popular Naga singer Alobo Naga, Naga Idol renbeni Idyuo were the main performers for the evening even as a host of other musicians got together for an evening of jamming and poetry.

Thanks to Lou Majaw, Dylan certainly lives on in Northeast India. And judging by the way the tribute celebrations are going, he will surely do so for quite some time to come!


Northeast all set to pay tribute to Dylan

It started off as a small celebration amongst a few friends. But the Bob Dylan tribute concert organized by Lou Majaw of Shillong has literally assumed gigantic proportions, with its popularity spilling over to various parts of the country and even abroad. So much so that Lou has almost become synonymous with Bob Dylan himself in India.

Lou – a icon in the Northeast himself – has started the Bob Dylan celebrations on May 24, 1972. What started off a small get-together amongst friends has continued for more than four decades now, with the magnitude of the show increasing every year. Also has increased Shillong’s passion for one of the greatest musicians in the world.

While hundreds of people from different parts make a beeline for this small hill town of Meghalaya ever year to take part in the festival, Lou has been pressurising the government of Meghalaya to declare the day as a government holiday. A number of well known bands have performed in Shillong on May 24 every year to honour, what Lou says, “how his music infuses life with meaning”. “His songs lit up my life and gave it a lot of meaning. His new stuff doesn’t touch me as much though,” says Majaw, the 59-year-old rocker who grew up playing in clubs of Shillong and Kolkata.

Since 1972, the Bob Dylan fest has been organized in Shillong with unfailing regularity – irrespective of whether there is rain, or a venue, sponsors being a second entity. Be it in parks, halls or personal residences of the many music aficionados living here – Bob Dylan is sure to come alive in Shillong every May 24. And in every tribute session, the set list remains the same – edgy, angry Dylan, which somehow reflects the youth angst of this hill station.

The festival is slowly spilling over to other parts of the region as well. Musicians and music lovers of Guwahati who have been part of the festival with unfailing regularity had started their own tribute concert in the capital city last year. Christening themselves as the Guwahati chapter of the Bob Dylan society, these musicians join Lou celebrate Dylan’s birthday over a distance of 100-odd kilometres.

“Lou is undoubtedly India’s own Dylan. However, it has become increasingly difficult for us to go up to Shillong every year to take part in the celebrations. That does not, however, mean we will stop celebrating the day. So some of us friends decided to open the Guwahati chapter of the Dylan society so as to make it easier for us,” says Dr. Nandan Phukan, one of the founders of the Guwahati chapter.

Last year, the celebrations were held in Cafe Hendrix – a local pub in the city which saw a host of senior and new musicians jamming together to celebrate the day. Veteran bassist Dr Ganesh Deka, vocalist Hridoy Goswami joined the Guwahati chapter of the Dylan society and classic rock bands Stags celebrate the occasion.

This year too, several initiatives have been lined up in different towns and cities of the region. While Lou is all set to celebrate his idol’s birthday in his hometown, the Guwahati chapter has organized a night of creativity to mark the occasion. The event, organized in association with Eastern Beats Music Society and Cafe Hendrix, will be held in the newly inaugurated performing lounge of Cafe Hendrix in the city. Besides jam sessions of Dylan numbers by musicians of the city, popular Manipuri rock band Cleave and city-based band Bolt from the Blue is also scheduled to take part in the celebrations.

Dr Nandan says, “Dylan is a person who advocated creativity and change throughout his life. So this year, the theme of our celebrations will be creativity in any form – it can be writings, poetry, music, songs, whatever. Anyone who has a piece of something creative with him or her is encouraged to come and take part in the event.”

Meanwhile, the sense of creativity has been taken up in Shillong as well. Noted poet and folklorist Dr. Desmond Kharmawphland has also organized a “poetry and song” event in Cafe Shillong on May 25. “All those who write poetry or sing songs are invited to come and be part of the event,” he said, even as he asked Dylan fans to spread the word among their friends.

Thanks to Lou Majaw, Dylan certainly lives on in Northeast India. And will surely do so for quite some time to come!

Blues to liven up your weekends


Cafe Hendrix is a one-of-its kind pub for blues and rock and roll lovers of the Northeast.

guitarist utpal barsaikia cutting cake to celebrate henrix's 68th birthday iin cafe hendrix

Located in the Down Town area of Guwahati, this small cafe dedicated to Jimi Hendrix has in a very short span of time become a hotspot for music lovers of Guwahati, primarily on account of the live music sessions every weekend and the pub rock ambience.

As the name indicates, the pub is the dream initiative of Syed Arzoo Ahmed – a die-hard fan of Jimi Hendrix who always wanted to host people with good food and good music. Though it initially started as a restaurant with a diverse clientele profile, it was transformed into a Blues pub in September 2010. Driven entirely by the community of blues and Hendrix lovers of the city, the pub has become a suitable platform for visiting musicians of the Northeast and also a launching platform for new talents.

With Arzoo spending his childhood in the hill town of Kohima, he harbours strong sentiments of unity among the different tribes of the Northeast. Accordingly, the pub has featured many tribal musicians and artistes till date.

The Genesis

german band karma grooves

Cafe Hendrix initially started off as a restaurant in the winter of 2007 and its first live performance was dedicated to Hendrix during the guitarist 65th birthday celebrations. “Jimi Hendrix is a legend whose magic is inimitable even today. He is the greatest guitar hero that ever lived. Having grown on a staple diet of his songs, it was only natural that I name my venture after Hendrix.” Though the cafe served good food and featured a number of artists in the initial days, it managed to embrace a varied clientele only after it was transformed into a pub.


The highlight of Cafe Hendrix would undoubtedly have to be its ambience. A rock pub in the truest sense of the term, portraits of rock and roll legends adorn all the walls of the joint where comfortable sofas and tables are neatly arranged in the limited space available. With evergreen blues and rock and roll hits being played continuously in the background, the atmosphere reflects Arzoo’s passion for rock and his devotion to Jimi Hendrix. The only drawback of the joint is the limited space available.

Earmarked Nights

Since its inception, Cafe Henrix has conceived and developed several evenings which have become properties in its own right. The birthday celebrations of Jimi Hendrix, which has been carrying on since 2007 and which is into its fifth year now, is one such property. The Guwahati leg of Shillong’s famous Bob Dylan tribute celebrations also started here from this year.

With the visitors to the trademark celebrations increasing every year, Arzoo now has plans to organize these gigs in other venues. A separate jamming room is also being constructed near the cafe.

Till now, the cafe has played host to a number of regional and international musicians, including Lou Majaw, German band Karma Grooves, Mystical Illusion, April Shower, amongst others.

Bob Dylan celebrations


On full evenings, the cafe can host around 100 to 150 people which is very small when compared to other pubs in the country.

Sound Facilities

Cafe Hendrix has a basic sound system with the requisite stage gear and light and sound apparatus.

Birthday fest for 70-year old Dylan turns 39 in Northeast

Guwahati too joins tribute brigade along with Lou’s annual fest in Shillong

Unless he has a fascination for travel to lesser known destinations or has heard about the north-eastern corner of India, Robert Zimmerman, in all probability, has not even heard about Shillong. Or Guwahati for that matter. And if he has, or the day he comes to know about the existence of this remote corner on the world map, he surely will be in for one of the biggest surprises of his life. I am talking about the tribute fest dedicated to this man and which has carried on in Shillong for almost four decades now.

A first-timer might call it strange. Maybe even crazy. But whatever he decides on in the end, the fact remains that one cannot ignore the intensity of the tributes being paid in Shillong to this man who continues to occupy centre-stage in the global music map for half a century now under the adopted name of Bob Dylan. Led by Khasi guitarist-singer Lou Majaw, the Bob Dylan tribute fest in Shillong has carried on without interruption ever since it started, irrespective of whether it rains or whether there is a crowd, attaining national and global popularity as a one-of-its-kind festival.

One-of-a-kind, this festival surely is. After all, how often is it that you get to hear about a musician organizing a tribute festival for the greater part of his whole life simply as a mark of respect for his idol – a person whom he has never seen perform and whom he had heard only on the radio. The Bob Dylan tribute fest in Shillong is the perfect example of how one man’s respect for his favourite musician has slowly engulfed the hearts and minds of all the people in the city and State he lives in. The fest traces its humble beginnings to the Assam Club of Shillong where it was first held on May 24, 1972.

Bob Dylan is no stranger to fame. In a life spanning the trademark rollercoaster rise of a true artist, he has attained legendary status for the lyrical content of his songs and his firebrand form of protest, accentuated by the nasal twinge in his voice. His six-minute single ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ in 1965 had revolutionised popular music by altering popular attitudes regarding pop. Winner of numerous awards including Grammy, Golden Globe, and the Academy Award, he also has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Nashville, the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

But more than his induction into any hall of fame, the rich legacy and fan base that Dylan has created along his journey to give voice to protest through words and music should be seen to be believed. And what better example can anybody find than the celebrations in Shillong?

Every year, hundreds of his fans in the Northeast and other parts of the country join Lou as he and other musicians celebrate the poet-troubadour’s birthday by singing his songs. The celebration is nothing elaborate and usually has Lou and other musicians singing popular Dylan songs and cutting a birthday cake, besides performances in schools and on the streets of the hill station. The only defining factor being the unfailing regularity with which the celebration is held.

Classic rock n roll band STAGS

Yet Lou, when asked about his yearly tribute, always has a single word for all the queries. Respect. “It’s just cos of the respect I have for Dylan. I respect him as a lyricist, as a writer of songs and poetry. His songs lit up my life and gave it a lot of meaning,” says the 64-year old, who is always found dressed in his trademark shorts and colourful socks, and who is also popularly referred to as Shillong’s own Dylan.

The Dylan celebration in Shillong this year was billed to be corporatised. This would have been a far cry from the impromptu sessions that usually marks the Dylan tribute. But unfortunately, the plan did not work out and the fest was held at the usual sports club.

Despite the hiccups in the corporatization of the Dylan dest, Lou’s devotion towards his idol however did inspire the birth of another round of celebrations, albeit this time in Guwahati. Some die-hard Dylan fans and regular visitors to the yearly celebration in Shillong got together to form the Guwahati chapter of the Great Dylan society in a bid to make up for their inability to go to Shillong on May 24. Led by Dr. Nandan Phukan, Navajeet Das, Sanjeev Gogoi and Mrityunjoi Borkotoki, a number of musicians and artists participated in the celebrations held at Cafe Hendrix.

“Shillong, which used to be just a couple of hours away earlier, seems to be very far these days on account of the ongoing road expansion. So we thought it would be much more easier for us fans if we started a simultaneous celebration in Guwahati as well,” says Dr. Nandan Phukan. A number of prominent musicians landed up in the evening at the cafe to jam along with city-based classic rock ‘n’ roll band Stags. Comprising Abhijit Das on drums, Jagadish on lead guitar, Peter Alex on rhythm and Katan on vocals, the group ensured that the merriment quotient was kept high throughout the evening.

Bob Dylan should certainly be proud to see his legacy in the Northeast. And to finish off, just like the fests here did, Happy Birthday Dylan, wherever you are!

Aiyushman Dutta

Waking up to spring time exuberance

The onset of springtime is undoubtedly the most preferred time to visit Northeast India. For this is the time when the people of the region, belonging to different tribes and races and with myriad ethno-cultural traditions, languages and religious beliefs, give full lease to their joy and exuberance in the form of unbridled festivities celebrating the mood of nature.

Dimapur woke up the grandeur of spring in Northeast India last week as thousands of people flocked to the NEZCC grounds in Dimapur – the commercial capital of Nagaland – to watch the North East Spring Festival 2011. Organized by the North East Zone Cultural Centre (NEZCC) for the third consecutive year to celebrate the onset of spring in this corner of the world, more than 500 artistes from all the States of Northeast India as well as the other zonal centres of the country participated in the event, making it one of the most vibrant events to be organized in the region in quite some time. Talking about the Spring Fest, NEZCC director Som Kamei said, “The North East Spring Fest is our tribute to the beauty of spring here in the region.”

While folk dancers from as many as 14 States of the country shared space with handloom and handicraft artisans, puppeteers, writers, poets, intellectuals, choral singers, theatre groups, food connoisseurs, the highlight of the five-day extravaganza would undoubtedly be the participation of folk dancers from the neighbouring country of Myanmar who were sponsored by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.

In a unique spectacle of colours marked by graceful movements and quaint rustic charm, the Burmese dance troupe performed as part of a unique folk fusion dance presentation on March 16 and the same was choreographed by internationally acclaimed musicologist Dr. Prassana Gogoi. A master craftsman who has earned acclaim in a number of countries, Dr. Gogoi’s accolade list also includes medals in the Seoul Drum Festival of South Korea. The beautifully choreographed presentation depicted the confluence of varied cultures in a truly vibrant and synchronised fashion.
The folk dance presentation featured regional folk dance forms like Rikhampada of the Nishi community of Arunachal Pradesh, Bagrumba of the Bodo community of Assam, Cheraw dance of Mizoram, Ka Shad Mastieh of the Khasis of Meghalaya, amongst others, as well as dance troupes from seven other States of the country. The visiting dance troupes included performances of the Gussadi dance of Andhra Pradesh, Gaur Maria dance of Chattisgarh, Dandiya Raas of Gujarat, Kullu Nati of Himachal Pradesh, Sambalpuri dance of Orisssa and Choliya dance of Uttaranchal. The folk dance troupes also performed in Mokokchung on March 12, Jaluki in Peren district on March 18 and Medziphema on March 19 as part of the NEZCC’s outreach programme.

The North East Spring Festival 2011 also had something in store for book lovers, students and the people of Dimapur in the form of the Dimapur Book fair. Organized by the National Book Trust in close collaboration with NEZCC and the district administration of Dimapur, the fair was participated by as many as 26 publishing houses which had come from different parts of the country. Marked by well-attended panel discussions, seminars, workshops, poets and writers meets and competitions for children, the book fair was regarded to be a major step in the development of the reading culture of the people of Dimapur. The fair, which continued for five days, was inaugurated by eminent litterateur Prof Temsula Ao and Dimapur Deputy Commissioner Maowati Aiyer.

Moving on to the performing arts festival, while puppeteers from Rajasthan enthralled the students and children who had come to the fair Guwahati-based theatre group Stage Fusion also performed two of their acclaimed comedies, including their latest ‘Date at 8’. Directed by Rupa Hazarika Som, the Guwahati-based group has been able to earn much acclaim over the last couple of years. Date at 8 had been staged for the first time in Guwahati earlier this year.

With the showcasing of varied art and cultural forms for almost a week, the North East spring fest drew to a close on March 20 with a fusion music evening. While Khasi guitarist-singer Lou Majaw and his group of friends was the biggest draw, the Naga choir led by Lipokmar Tzudir and the Llanfair Chamber Choir from Mizoram truly took the evening took its highest crescendo.

All in all the North East Spring Fest 2011 proved to be a gala success, truly reflecting the joy, exuberance and optimism of spring time.

Jamming in the city

Music lovers of Guwahati recently had the chance to be part of a highly interactive jamming session with some of the most well-known musicians of the region. I am talking about the jamming session organized as part of the inaugural launch ceremony of the DJ School of music in Rajgarh area of the city. The music school has been started by singer-guitarist Dhruva Sharma, who was the frontman of Friends – the oldest rock group of the State.

Some of the most prominent musicians of Guwahti and Shillong were in town last Saturday to be part of the official opening ceremony. The guest singers list included Khasi singer-guitarist Lou Majaw, Rudy Wallang and Tipriti of Soulmate, veteran Assamese guitarist Utpal Barsaikia, JP Das, Keith Wallang, amongst others.

While Guwahati has always been home to some prolific musicians who are doing very well in their professional careers, the lack of proper music schools have often proved to be a major hindrance for aspiring music students who are often found to lack a proper foundation. As such, a music school which has an experienced western classical music faculty is reason enough for good cheer. The faculty of the DJ school of music has musicians like Bredner Momin (piano), Madhurjya Bordoloi (guitars), Nomoni (drums), Ambar Das (drums) and Proma (piano).

Following a simple ceremony where all the musicians were felicitated with gamosas and japis, the guest musicians got down to do what they do best – jam together, of course! – much to the delight of all those present that day. While Rudy and Tips showed those present their musical acumen which has taken their band places all over the world, JP Das and Lou Majaw proved that despite their age they are still going strong. With his deep baritone and the occasional nasal twinge, Lou was at his characteristics best that day.

A host of musicians and music lovers of the city had descended at the Rajgarh area to be part of the opening ceremony and it was a sheer trip down memory lane for most of them present.

Shillong gears up for annual Bob Dylan fest

Lou Majaw and the Bad Monkeys to perform in Kolkata and Shillong

Come May and the quaint little man in the hill town of Shillong gets ready to pay his yearly obeisance to his idol. Yes, I am talking about the annual Bob Dylan fest in Shillong, led by Khasi guitarist singer Lou Majaw, which over the years has evolved to become a major one-of-its-kind festival in the world. The scene is no different this year and grey haired Lou is once again seen bustling around town, making last minute preparations for his annual tribute.

For the unacquainted, the Bob Dylan tribute fest has been carried out in Shillong on a yearly basis by Lou Majaw – one of the legendry troubadour’s greatest fans in this part of the world. Having begun on May 24, 1972, the fest – one of the numerous Bob Dylan tribute fests all across the world – has continued for almost four decades now. A selective and most devoted group of people, from Mumbai, Delhi, Goa, Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Guwahati and other parts of the North–east region and of course Shillong, gather in Shillong every year to take part in the fest.

The Bob Dylan fest in Shillong cannot be said to be a concert. It is more of a sort of a ritual, yet an unobtrusive one. Though when you compare it with the famed unfussy love of Shillongites for western music, you do tend to feel that it is almost insignificant. But still the Dylan fest is carried out every year in this quaint little town led by the same grinning old man who is part of the lives of every Shillongite. Lou is usually accompanied by the Ace of Spades – which is made up of Lou Majaw on vocals and guitar, accompanied by fellow Dylanites Lew Hilt on bass, Nondon Bagchi on drums.

Very often, the show starts with Majaw playing a couple of solo tracks – Tambourine Man or Buckets of rain – and the band join in shortly. This is the listening part of the show as the audience’s eyes are locked and riveted on Majaw as he sings the gospel… according to Bob. Though this festival has become highly popular and is one of the most highly regarded among all the Bob Dylan tribute festivals of the world, the monotonous nature of the festival never ceases to amaze me.

Bob Dylan is a man who changed people looked at things. Taking the form of story – telling from folk music and the blues, Dylan changed the way popular music would be written. Besides his seemingly effortless genius with lyrics, he has been and continues to be a musical stylist constantly evolving a sound that is his own. As such, the contained ambition of his fans in Shillong – some of whom don’t really know his music but get enveloped by its energy – is something truly remarkable and which is, I believe, the hallmark of the entire Bob Dylan fest. For despite the fact that their actions do not match the ideals for which Dylan really stood for, the power and depth in the tribute cannot fail to move you, to teach you something.

My personal opinions notwithstanding, the Dylan tribute fest in Shillong remains an yearly pilgrimage for all music lovers that ought not to be missed. This time around, Lou will be accompanied by the Bad Monkeys – a highly progressive three-piece instrumental outfit based in Shillong. Made up of Rangdap on Guitar, Gideon on Bass and Noel on Drums, the Bad Monkeys started off as ‘Rangdap’ – a solo project with most compositions by Rangdap himself and Gideon on the Bass. The band released their debut album ‘MAMA’S BOY’ in 2008. Later Noel joined in for the Drums and percussion. With the new line up, the band’s music has opened up to an entirely new horizon that also has a bit of humour and soul into it. The band is presently in the studios recording for their second album, Beyond the fence.

The festival will kick off in Some Place Else (SPE) of Hotel Park at 10 pm today evening. The first phase of the celebrations in Shillong will be organized on Monday (May 24) at Pearly Dew Secondary School in Jaiaw at 2 pm in the afternoon. The fest will then move on to Khyndailad (Police Bazaar). So if you are not in Kolkata today evening, be sure to make it to Shillong this Monday!

LOU ONE-LINER: “There is no such thing as an old song. When you play a song, add some life in it, so the song will breath a new life.”

Rock assault set to leave Silchar ‘thunderstruck’!

Last year around this very time, a new rock festival started off in Silchar. It was being organized by NIT and was labelled “Thundermarch”. At that time, I was kind of apprehensive about the whole event and somehow could not link Silchar with rock. However, much to my delight and to the benefit of the rock scene in this corner of the country, I was proved wrong. Thundermarch 2009 truly struck Silchar in an unimaginable way and immediately ensured that the festival gets a place into the Northeast Indian rock calendar.

More than 20 bands from different corners of the region had competed with each other for the top prize. And to add further sheen to the entire festival were performances by Boomerang – the rock sensation from Mizoram, Breathe – the Pink Floyd tribute band from the United Kingdom and Demonic Resurrection. Needless to say, the electrifying performances of these bands along with the heavy dose of both rock and metal ensured that the two-day festival was a memorable one.

With the dawn of a new year, the festival is back again in the form of Thundermarch 2010, along with the promise to give the rock crazy people of Silchar another heavy dose of rock! As Harish, the organizer, said, “Thundermarch is back for yet another edition and it promises to be bigger and louder! This is a call to all the headbangers and music lovers to pack their bags and get ready for Silchar is definitely the place to be now!” Well,
The artistes and bands performing this time around are Lou Majaw and Friends, Rampazee, Afflatus and Dream Diabolic.

I feel it would be pointless to deliberate on Lou Majaw for I feel most of us are pretty well acquainted with the grey-haired Khasi guitarist-singer in his trademark shorts and who can enliven any gathering with his rendering of Bob Dylan’s numbers.

Moving on to the rest, Rampazze would definitely be a band which both the younger as well as mature crowd can look forward to. Formed in the fall of 2006 in New Delhi, Rampazze is a classic rock outfit that is pretty popular across the national circuit. The band sticks to its bluesy roots while managing to deliver their music in an edgy fashion. With their impressive and groovy riffs along with their wild on-stage histrionics and tongue-in-cheek lyrics, the band is sure to set the stage on fire. The band was formed at the initiative of lead guitarist Abhishek Boro and Joshringdao Phonglo. Though there have been a number of changes in the line-up of the band, it finally settled on Himangshu Rava on the vocals and Nayan Gogoi on drums, besides the two founding members. They have released their 5-song Extended Play (EP) recently.

And then there is Afflatus – the all girl band from Shillong that is sure to raise a few eyebrows. Formed by Grace Miller (Vocals), Karen Donoghue (Guitars), Sharon Zadeng (Bass) and Mercy Miller (Drums), Afflatus is made up of experienced musicians in their own right with Mercy, Karen and Sharon having earlier been members of bands and Grace a vocalist in her father’s gospel group since she was a child. The band’s debut performance in 2004 won them a prize at a national-level competition, something which proved that they are not to be taken lightly. They lived up to that beginning as since then, the band has come a long way with a debut album in the making and after performing in a number of concerts. As a band member said, “We began our inspirational journey in 2004; a journey that has had its share of hurdles, obstacles and constraints though the band has never lost sight of the one thread, one passion, one love that binds them together… the love of creating MUSIC.”

Dream Diabolic is another band to watch out for. The first progressive black metal band of Sikkim, the band is presently blazing across the national circuit. They have had a dream run since last year, having won the Campus Rock Idol (East Zone), IIT (Guwahati), IIT (Kharagpur) and having participated at Livewire in Mumbai, amongst others. The band has fond memories of Assam as its lead guitarist Tshering Sherpa was adjudged the Best Bass guitarist, while Tashi Nima Lama was chosen the Best Bassist in the Rock o Phonix programme of IIT – Guwahati.

It would be interesting to note if Thundermarch can deliver a thunder of the same intensity as it did last year.